KVMR news director Paul Emery commenting on ‘Right Wing Extremism in Action: Tea Party Houston’ introduced Riane Eisler’s Caring Economics into the wide-ranging discussion in that post’s comment stream. Paul Emery’s concern there was that Eisler’s ideas are so compelling and, at the same time, revolting to conservatives, that they find it too hot to handle and simply want to change the subject instead of confronting head on its solutions to society’s problems. I personally was accused twice of doing so after answering Paul’s charges (BTW, readers should know that Paul is a friend, the ‘editor’ of my regular KVMR commentary, a student of the human condition, and one of the leading light’s in the local left’s intellectual pantheon. I am grateful that his observations and critiques generously grace RR’s comment streams.)
By any measure, Eisler is a left-wing economist with strong feminist overtones. The above link provides an excellent summary of her Caring Economics. The purpose of this post it to provide a forum for a discussion of Eisler’s ideas for a brave and caring new world. We begin appropriately with Paul’s most recent lament about capitalism -
One of the problems with capitalism as it is heralded by the self described conservatives is that it places no value on the work being done, only on whether it turns a profit. To place a value on the importance of the work being done is an evolution that Ms. Eisler embraces. Doesn't the work of raising intelligent, educated and responsible children have more value than the manufacturing of cigarettes for example? How is the true value of the work we do established? It's a huge question that no one wants to talk about.
So let’s begin by talking about the ‘true value of work’. (I have the honor of being not only a “self-described conservative”, but an ascribed conservative who has enjoyed that appellation from far and wide, bestowed over many years.) Value itself is usually understood to be “the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.” The ‘other things’ may be person-to-person specific, or person-to-market specific – here it takes to two tango.
‘True value’ of anything is a general concept foreign to most people, except perhaps those contemplating the workings of command economies. Most progressives quickly tend toward command economies when in such discussions they are invited to bare their souls. So in this sense, there exists no ‘true value of work’ that can be applied in the large where people are free to bargain and trade. It has and continues to be a socialist shibboleth.
Now to the value of “the work of raising intelligent, educated and responsible children”. In dollars and cents that value is already expressed precisely by the parents of the child as they invest in his support and education while he remains in their household. From an economic perspective, the kid returns little beyond the hopefully net joy that is provided for by the human relationships involved. And the little darlin’ doesn’t even provide that to the rest of us.
We stand still for transfer payments to benefit another’s child in the hope that the present value of the kid’s future economic contributions will somehow make worthwhile today’s expenditures. As a taxpayer, I don’t need to pay for the parents’ marginal labor in bringing up their kid. If they have wealth generating jobs, they already charge enough for their labor there to account for such ‘home expenses’. The last thing that we need is an armed and uniformed marshal at my door to collect the marginal tax for paying some mother to raise her kids. To an extent, I think we already have a foot in such a world.
Eisler’s new brand of command socialism would have us succumb to exactly such government assignations of the ‘true value of working mothers’ to be an added cost borne by the (all together now) ‘rich’.
Let me conclude this post by bringing forward the relevant comment thread from ‘Right Wing Extremism …’ to Paul’s above opening salvo. Notice that Paul will introduce a new idea, “true capitalism”, in his response below. This is another notion inaccessible to most of us.